250 The Greek Papyri material of the ancient world flickered out in the Dark Ages. Though more than a hundred years were still to pass before excavations were undertaken for the definite purpose of dis- covering Greek papyri,1 the number of texts which were found by natives and, passing through the hands of travellers and private collectors, eventually found their way to the museums of Europe steadily increased throughout the nineteenth cen- tury. That the first literary papyrus to be found should be a manuscript of part of the Iliad was both proper and symbolic of the enormous, indeed unwelcome, preponderance of Homeric texts; of more promise for the future was the discovery in 1847 of fragments of six speeches, hitherto unknown, of the orator Hypereides. Not long after the plundering of the Greek rubbish- heaps of Arsinoe (Medinet el-Faiyum) had flooded the market with thousands of papyri (often very fragmentary)2 the age of scientific excavation began, and though it is not yet over it seems certain that no site will rival the riches of Oxyrhynchus which rewarded the pioneers in this field, B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt. With it began that minor renaissance which has affected nearly every department of classical studies; to-day, when social and economic conditions are the recognized material of history, even the Charta Borgiana has come into its own. , For the legacy of the papyri is in its nature indirect, a legacy to civilization's knowledge of its own past rather than directly to the world of to-day, except in so far as modern institutions —the Church is an obvious example—are modified by increased knowledge and insight into their own origins. Nor are papyri objets d*art, or only very rarely (we may think of the one or two 1 The term 'papyrology* is commonly used to describe the study of all written material from Egypt, except inscriptions on stone, i.e. parchment, ostraka, or potsherds, and tablets of wood or lead, and is so used in this essay. The great majority of the texts are on papyrus. 2 It is so rare for a literary text to be found entire (though documents often are) that it must be assumed that the literary texts mentioned are, in very varying measure, incomplete.